Benjamin Sisko was currently reading the latest reports Starfleet Intelligence had sent to him--dealing with the projections predicting the dissolution of the alliance between Cardassia Prime and the Dominion. It was shown that in the near future a peace agreement quite possibly could be reached and was quite likely. Sisko tried dredging up enthusiasm about the prospect, but just couldn't manage it at the moment, as his mind would inevitably drift back to his Chief Medical Officer and his Cardassian spouse. Setting the data padd down, Sisko picked up his reliable baseball and started to toss it from hand to hand. There had to be a way to help his young friend and family; he just hadn't been able to figure it out as of yet. He could definitely sympathize with the frustration and pain that Julian and Garak both must be going through, but what could he do about it? It would be a gross neglect of his duty if he just let Garak go, as he desperately wished he could, so finding out who was responsible was the only other workable solution that the Starfleet captain could see. Sighing in frustration, Sisko laid the baseball back down in it's holder and picked the data padd up once again.
"Captain?" He heard his first officer hail him on his comm badge.
"Yes, Major?" he responded.
"Captain, there is a group of merchants wishing to speak to you. Are you able to see them?" the Major asked.
A group of merchants? Sisko sighed inwardly wondering what new problems he was likely to have to deal with. "Yes Major, please send them in," he responded finally.
Sisko didn't count heads as the group started to enter his office, but as they finished filing in, he knew there had to be over a dozen people standing before him. As large as the station was, Benjamin was able to recognize quite a few faces. The group was quite diversified as he saw the owner of the Klingon restaurant, the Bolian who also owned his own restaurant, numerous Bajorans from the different restaurants and shops that serviced the station, and even Quark--who was standing in the background.
"Hello all," Sisko greeted cordially as he stood up from behind his desk. "Is there something I could do for you?" he asked, wondering what was going on, since a group this large hardly ever approached him unless there was some kind of discord on the station.
Chalan Aroya, the Bajoran owner of the Celestial Cafe, pushed her way forward and spoke. "Actually, Captain, yes there is something you could do for us. We of the the Merchant's Association want to submit an official petition objecting to the arrest of Mr. Bashir-Garak. All of us feel that he has been falsely accused and are here to show our support to him and his family."
Sisko looked over the group in silence, catching the eyes of each of the individual merchants in his presence. "Do you all feel that way?"
All of the members nodded their heads in agreement, but again it was Chalan who spoke on behalf of the group. "That's right, Captain, we are all in complete agreement with this and will do whatever we are able to in order to help prove Garak's innocence as well as help his family out in anyway possible." Murmurs of agreement were heard throughout the group.
"Well, while I'm sure Mr. Bashir-Garak and his family would appreciate this kind gesture, I just want to assure you that Constable Odo and I are both personally looking into this case and seeking any information that would disavow Garak's involvement with the murder," Sisko replied forcefully, letting everyone know that things were being handled, even if it may not be as quickly as he would like them to be.
"We are gratified to hear that," Chalan replied. "Please make an official note to Starfleet about our petition."
"I will indeed make sure to do that," Sisko replied in turn. "Now, if you'll all excuse me." he said, showing them to the door.
"Of course Captain, and thank you for taking the time for seeing us," Chalan replied as she headed towards the door.
"My pleasure and if there is anything I can do to be of assistance, don't hesitate to let me know," Sisko told them as the last few filed back out of his office.
After the crowd left, Sisko took his seat behind his desk again and stared briefly at the door. 'Things are definitely changing on this station,' he thought to himself. There was a time where he would never have dreamed to have had so many people step forward on the Cardassian's behalf, let alone the number of Bajorans. He had never realized just how many people had slowly come to accept Garak and his family. He knew that the merchants were also aware that the petition wouldn't really make much of a difference, but it was a way that they had to show their support of Garak. There was a certain amount of pride to be felt from knowing that a sense of harmony and acceptance had not only affected his Starfleet officers, but had also spilled forth to include the other members of the station as well. It didn't, however, help his guilty conscious knowing that their focus of purpose was still locked up. 'Don't worry, Garak, I'll think of something," he vowed silently. *****
Several days later, Odo was looking over the weekly security reports when he heard someone enter the office. Looking up from the data padd, he watched as Julian approached.
"Doctor, what can I do for you?" Odo asked, setting the padd aside.
Julian sighed inwardly at the ritual he had to go through each time he wanted to see Elim. "I want to see Elim," the doctor said simply. The Changeling nodded and led Julian to the holding cells.
Julian's heart constricted at the sight of his husband lying quietly on the small cot. He could only imagine how Garak was feeling, having to deal with his claustrophobia in the confining cell. The doctor had to swallow the anger he felt building in his stomach at the thought that his spouse didn't even belong there.
Garak heard the approach of visitors and looked over. A smile formed on his lips as he saw the doctor. "Jahkim," he called and stood to come nearer to his lover.
Julian smiled back at him before turning to the Constable. "Odo, do you think you could allow me into Garak's cell?"
"Doctor, you know very well that is not allowed according to regulations," Odo answered in a chastising tone.
"I know that, but do you think you could perhaps make an exception in this case?" Julian appealed. Julian knew that Odo was only carrying on the charade in front of the security guard.
"Yes, Constable, I have a few things I'd like to discuss with my husband and I would rather do it in private," Garak added.
"I'm sure you would, but you know as well as I do that it would be considered a breech of security to allow it," Odo told the tailor.
"Odo, how often have I ever came to you for a favor?" Julian asked him. "Nothing is going to happen if you allow us to talk alone."
"I will guarantee that what the doctor said is the truth. I give you my word that there is no ulterior motives on my part," Garak added.
Odo had in mind to tell him that Garak's word didn't hold much with him, but as he looked back and forth between the couple he only saw honest sincerity in their faces. He had always relied on his judgment in the past, so he quickly made his decision as his eyes went to the young officer assigned to guard the tailor.
"Harris, don't you have an assignment to do a security check of the cargo bays?"
The officer looked at the doctor and Constable with confusion. "Umm, I don't think so, Sir."
"You do now. You'd better get on it right away," the Chief of Security ordered.
"Yes, Sir," the officer replied and headed out the door.
Odo turned to the smiling doctor. "It seems that it is time for lunch. You have an hour," he informed him as he shut down the forcefield, allowing Julian to enter the cell.
"Thank you, Odo," Julian replied as the field went back up.
"One hour," Odo reminded them before leaving the couple alone.
Julian quickly found himself in Garak's embrace, allowing himself to be kissed so hard that it left his knees weak.
"Gul, Julian, have I missed you!" the tailor stated in a ragged voice after the kiss ended.
"I've missed you too, Love," Julian replied honestly as Garak took his hand and led him to the bed to sit down.
"How's my little Jahkim?" Garak asked.
"He still asks for Jayta every night. He still doesn't understand why you're not there to give him his bath and tuck him into bed," Julian replied, still holding the tailor's hand.
Garak looked at him with sadness. "I hope he realizes how much I miss him too."
"Of course he does. I remind him every night before he goes to sleep that you love him and are thinking about him. When he asks me when you're coming home, I tell him that it will be soon," Julian replied.
"You shouldn't do that, Jahkim," Garak replied, his thumb stroking small circles on the back of Julian's hand. "That may not be the truth and it isn't right lying to the boy, even if it is unintentional."
"I'm not lying, Elim, you will be out of here soon if I have anything to say about it," Julian responded.
"Jahkim, I'm charged with murder and the evidence is pointing to the conclusion that I was the one responsible," Garak replied.
"I don't care. I'm working on a way of proving that you're innocent. You are not going to be found guilty," Julian said resolutely.
'You will never lose your optimism will you, Love? That's just one of the things I love so much about you,' the tailor thought to himself. He sobered at the thought of what he had to tell his spouse.
Julian noticed that the previous smile Garak had earlier had turned into a deep frown. "Elim, what's wrong?"
"Julian, we have to face the fact that there is a very real possibility that I will be found guilty of the murder." Julian started to protest, but Garak raised his hand to stop him. "If that day comes, we need to plan for the future."
"What are you talking about?" the doctor asked with confusion.
Garak looked directly into Julian's hazel eyes. "If I am convicted, I wish for us to have a divorce." Julian looked at him with frank surprise, too stunned to even speak. Garak seized the opportunity to make his case. "Hear me out, Jahkim, if I am sentenced, I will be in prison for the rest of my life. I would not be able to be any type of husband to you or a father to Rochosh or the new little one on the way. If we divorce, I would then know you would not be waiting for me. You would be free to live out the rest of your life as you should. You would be able to find someone else and. . ."
"Shut up, just shut up right now!" the doctor said, finally finding his voice again. The authority and tone of voice took the tailor off guard. They never spoke to each other in such a way. Julian's eyes bore into the ice blue depths of the tailor's. "Elim Bashir-Garak, if you think that for one moment I would willfully agree to such a thing, you are sorely mistaken. You are my husband and when we made the pledge to spend the rest of our lives together, that is exactly what I meant. For better 'or' worse, remember that? Those vows I took very seriously and meant every word. There is no way I would consider having anyone else in my life. You are my husband, you are Rochosh's father and soon to have another child to look after, that's the end of it. You made a commitment to all of us and if you think you can just turn your back on it, you're wrong!"
"Jahkim, please be reasonable, I'm trying to do what would be best for all of you," Garak replied before getting interrupted again.
"Haven't we already been through this before? When has trying to end things between us ever been 'best' for any of us? I thought we both learned that lesson long ago, but it looks like you've forgotten it," Julian replied.
"No, I haven't forgotten it, but the circumstances are different now. Being separated from you may not be within my control and I don't want to think of you waiting for the day for us to be together again when it would never happen," Garak said forcefully.
"Remember some time ago when you said that when something is meant to be, nothing, not an individual alive nor a cosmic act would keep it from being?" Julian asked.
Garak flinched inwardly at hearing his own words come back to him. "Yes, I remember saying that but. . ."
"Then have the faith of your own words. We've been through so much and we'll get through this too. We both know you're innocent and it 'will' be proven," Julian replied and brought his hand up to caress the tailor's cheek. Garak closed his eyes and turned to the touch. "You are going to be there with me when this child is due. That's all there is to it."
"I'm not going to change your mind on this, am I?" the tailor asked with a defeated sigh.
"Not on your life," Julian returned with a small smile.
Garak smiled slightly. "Then I suppose I have no other option but to believe that my brilliant husband is going to find a way to clear me of the charges."
Julian smiled even brighter. "That's right, Love, somehow I'm going to. I promise you that." Julian sealed the promise with a sound kiss.
"Jahkim, whatever am I going to do with you?" Garak said shaking his head.
Julian leaned in close near his ear. "Actually, I can think of quite a few things," Julian whispered seductively. "I really hate sleeping in bed alone."
Garak pulled Julian onto his lap and wrapped his arms around him. "I know, Jahkim, I know. So do I," he replied and kissed Julian very slowly and very thoroughly as his arms held him close. "You know what?" he whispered in the doctor's ear.
"What?" Julian asked in the same hushed tone.
"I love you, Julian Garak-Bashir," Garak whispered, longing to be able to keep a hold on the doctor and never release him. Wanting nothing more than to take his family away and disappear from the rest of the universe.
"I love you too," Julian whispered back against the tailor's neck as he nuzzled it. Garak's hand rubbed the doctor's abdomen gently.
Julian was feeling slightly better after spending some time with Elim during his lunch hour. He still missed the tailor and would do whatever it took to get him back home, but in the meantime he would take whatever time they could have together--even if it was only an hour in his arms. He was just glad he had been able to make Elim see reason when the tailor had started talking about divorce. He wasn't sure what he would have done had Garak more forceful in wanting to split up if his innocence wasn't able to be proven. As he walked down the corridor of the habitat-ring he shook off that thought off. Garak was there to stay and his innocence *was* going to be proven if Julian had anything to say about it. Julian did the best he could not to let his anger or frustration over it show when he was around Garak, but it wasn't easy knowing that there was someone out there responsible for his husband's false arrest--a murderer who needed brought to justice--and he still felt completely helpless to do anything about it. He just had to trust in Sisko, believe that his commanding officer would do whatever it took to find the real killer.
"Oh Elim," Julian sighed into the empty corridor. Julian was incredibly tired and another wave of nausea threatened to start up again. He was suddenly very glad he was able to take the afternoon off and go home to take a nice hot shower and a nap for the rest of the afternoon. . .just as Garak had suggested before he left. . .after he picked up Rochosh from his mothers. He was sure his mother wouldn't mind watching her grandson for as long as Julian needed her to, but he just didn't feel right. His mother had been acting so strangely since her first day aboard the station and he didn't want to put her under any more stress than he had to. He neared her quarters and was about ready to sound the chime when he heard yelling coming from inside.
"Amsha, will you just stop and listen to me for five minutes?" The voice he heard was coming from his father.
"No, Richard I will not, and keep your voice civil, the boy is still sleeping," he heard his mother answer. "You've got nothing to say that I would want to hear. I tried talking to you before but you didn't want to have anything to do with it. Now you just expect me to all of a sudden be ready and willing to talk just because 'you've' decided that 'you're' good and ready? I'm sorry Richard, but it doesn't work like that. You want to keep secrets, that's fine. You want to keep on lying, that's fine too, but I'm not staying in a marriage where I constantly have to second guess what my husband's doing."
"Amsha, are you saying what I think you're saying?" Richard asked, suddenly getting nearly too quiet for Julian to hear. Julian felt guilty on listening in on his parents' conversation, but would feel worse intruding upon them at the moment.
"That's right, Richard, if you can't tell me the truth right here and now as to what's been going on, and won't respect our marriage by being honest with me, then we have no marriage," Amsha replied.
"Amsha, don't push this issue with me. . .don't give me an ultimatum."
"I'm sorry, Richard, but if that's what it takes to get you to be honest with me, then what choice do I have?" Amsha replied.
"Fine then. If you don't trust me anymore than this, then maybe you're right. . .maybe we 'don't' have a marriage. If that's what you want, fine by me."
Suddenly the door opened with a hiss and Richard came storming out, nearly knocking into Julian, whom he didn't seem to have noticed. The two men's eyes meet and held. Richard gave a brief look back, then back at his son. The elder man looked like he wanted to say something and even opened his mouth, but closed it again as a mask descended over his features and he took off down the corridor before Julian could say anything.
Julian walked into the living area where his mother was sitting on the sofa. Amsha looked up as her boy entered, and Julian could see the tears threatening to come forth. Almost seeing the mental shake she gave herself, Julian watched as his mother got up and came to him.
"Jules, darling! How did your talk with Elim go?" the older woman asked with a deceptively cheerful voice and a forced smile on her face. "I do hope you find out who did this to him. Has the captain been able to discover anything new? Oh! Before I forget, Rochosh is snuggled down with his teddy taking a nap. It was hard convincing him because he wanted to wait up for you to get back and. . .and. . .and," Amsha's voice started quivering and Julian gently took her into his arms while the dam of tears finally broke and Amsha couldn't fight back the wailing sobs as she clung to her son's chest. She buried her head in his shoulder as Julian gently stroked her hair. Julian didn't say a word, he only offered his silent strength and held onto her tightly as she shook. After a few moments, he led her over to sofa and continued holding her until the crying eased up slowly, the shaking had stopped, and she was finally able to regain control again.
"Oh, Jules, I'm so sorry," she sniffed, while trying to smooth out the lines in his now damp uniform.
"That's okay, Mom," he replied, taking her hands in his. "Do you want to talk about it?"
"I don't know what to do, Jules. Something is going on with your father and he won't talk to me about, it and it looks like it's going to. . .going to. . . drive us apart," Amsha said in a shaky and weary sounding voice.
"Mom, you and Dad have had your share of rough times, but you've always managed to pull through," Julian reminded her. Although, as far as Julian could recall, there had never been a time where they talked of splitting up over any of their disagreements.
"I'm not so sure about this time, honey, I can't. . .won't, stay with someone I can't trust completely," Amsha replied.
"Well, what has Dad told you that makes you think you can't trust him?" Julian asked, pulling his mother to lay against his chest.
"It's not what he's said. . .that's the problem, it's what he hasn't said." The older woman stopped what she was saying and then looked up into her son's concerned hazel eyes. "Oh honey, I'm so sorry. What's the matter with me? I have absolutely no right bringing you into this. This matter is between me and your father alone and you have so much to worry about as it is, what with Elim, the baby, taking care of Rochosh. . .the last thing you need is to worry about this."
"But Mom, if there's anything I can do. Maybe I can talk to Dad and. . ." Julian didn't get the chance to finish.
"There isn't, honey, and it wouldn't do any good trying to talk to your father. Like I said, it's strictly between your father and myself. . .I'm afraid there isn't anything you can do. I just don't want you worrying." With a determined look in her eyes, she reached up and gave her son a kiss on the cheek and then stood up. "Are you going to be okay?"
Julian looked at her in disbelief. "Mother, your asking me if I'm going to be all right? You're the one 'I'm' concerned with being all right."
A bittersweet smile graced her features. "Sweetheart, when I have I ever not been all right? I've lived through a good many things, and if I have to make it without your father. . .well, then that's what I'll have to do, isn't it?" Amsha gently stroked her boy's soft hair. "Don't worry about me, precious one, take care of yourself."
Julian studied the woman he knew to be his mother in silence. She had always been a strong woman, and it was a strength that he had admired as a child and still did as a grown man, but as he looked on her, he wondered how long that strength could hold out; wondered how much more she could endure before it finally became too much and it finally broke her. He wanted to say something, anything, that could offer her some comfort and strength, but he didn't know what else to say. Even now, she seemed more worried about him then herself.
"If you need anything, at anytime. . ." A finger was placed on his mouth, quieting him, while she bent down to kiss him on the forehead.
"I know," she acknowledged quietly. "Now we have a three-year-old to get ready to go home," Amsha replied and Julian knew by the look on her face that she wasn't going to discuss it anymore right now. . .she could be as stubborn as his father at times, so he resigned himself to watching her go into the bedroom. She then came out with Rochosh in her arms, his head resting on her shoulder and eyes closed tightly, still sound asleep. She transferred the boy into his fathers arms and smiled at them both. She gave her grandson one last kiss on the forehead and leaned in to give Julian a kiss on the cheek. "All right, now you make sure to bring him to visit tomorrow too."
"But Mother. . ." Julian had so much left to say to his mother yet, if he could figure out where to start.
"Shh, as I said, I'm going to be fine, honey, I promise you that," the older woman assured him. Julian felt himself being ushered to the door. He wasn't sure if his mother was in denial about the fight, just didn't feel like coping for the moment or what, but he didn't believe for a second that she truly was as fine as she was trying to lead him to believe. He also knew though, that when his mother didn't feel like talking about something, there was no arguing with her. Holding his son close to his chest, he suddenly found himself back outside in the corridor again.
Once inside his own quarters, he settled Rochosh into his bed with his teddy, replicated a steaming hot cup of Tarkalean, and sat down on the sofa. He squeezed his eyes shut and his stomach rolled and knotted up with another bout of nausea. Taking in a deep breath, he tried to steady the shaking hands that held his cup. He thought about how, at the moment, he would have liked nothing better to curl up in Garak's arms and to just be held tight. He picked up one of the imager photos that were framed and setting on their coffee table. It was a picture that had been taken on the day they had gotten married. Julian couldn't keep himself from staring into the handsome face of his spouse who was smiling back at him with such pleasure and happiness. A finger traced the outline of the tailor's image, first running over his jawline, then tracing the outlines of the ridges around his eyes. "Oh, Love, things just keep getting a little worse each day and I need you so much!" Julian whispered to the picture, looking for answers in the blue eyes reflected in the photo. Garak always seemed to make the universe a little saner. . .a little more stable. With Elim by his side, he had always felt like he could handle anything, but lately, things were starting to feel a whole lot less certain for the doctor. Bit by bit he felt like the things he cared most for in this world were being ripped from him and he was powerless to stop it. 'Stop doing this to yourself, Jules,' he told himself firmly. 'You have to be strong. Elim needs you, Rochosh needs you, your baby needs you, and even if they don't realize it yet, your parents need you. Pull yourself together.' The pep talk he gave himself did little to cheer him up, and he decided that he really could use that nap he had been thinking about earlier. 'Yes, a little sleep will do me a world of good,' he thought to himself as he set their wedding picture back down and drained the rest of his tea.
He was just about to settle in for the nap when he heard his door chime. Thinking it could either be his mother or father, he readily got up to answer it. He was surprised when it opened and he saw Dax in the doorway.
"Hello, Jadzia," Julian greeted, trying to muster the best smile he could manage.
The Trill took one look at Julian's bloodshot eyes, drooping shoulders, forced smile, and said, "What's happened now?"
Julian responded with a deep sigh, next to Elim, no one on this station knew him any better than Dax and sometimes her uncanny perception and knack of being direct nearly irritated him.
"What happened?" she repeated, with a concerned look growing in her steady blue eyes. "Is it Garak? Rochosh? Something with the baby?" she prompted.
"All of the above and more I'm afraid," Julian replied wearily and waved her towards one of the chairs. The Trill waited patiently for him go on. "It's my parents," he said quietly, "They're talking about separating."
"Oh no, Julian! I'm so sorry, what's happened with them?" Dax asked, surprised to hear such a thing. The Bashirs seemed to have had such a good marriage to her.
"You know about as much as I do, I'm afraid. When I came to pick up Rochosh, they were having an argument. Dad walked off and Mom's not talking," the doctor replied, leaning back and shutting his eyes, his hand came up to massage the bridge of his nose.
"Well, maybe it was just a little squabble, you know all married couples fight occasionally," Dax reasoned.
"True, but they never talked about separating before." Julian focused his eyes on the Trill. "I'm afraid it may be serious this time."
Jadzia got up and moved over next to Julian on the sofa. She then took him in her arms and had him rest against her. "I just don't know what to say."
Julian closed his eyes again as she ran her fingers soothing through his hair. "It wouldn't seem nearly as bad if Elim was here. I've gotten so use to counting on him at times like this, but since the murder charges were brought again him, things have only seemed to be getting worse." Julian looked up into Dax's face. "Did you know that just not an hour before talking to my mom, I had to talk Elim out of wanting a divorce for us?"
Dax frowned at him. "What are you talking about?"
"When I went to see Elim this afternoon, he was determined that if he was found guilty that he wanted us to get a divorce. He wanted me to be free instead of waiting on him when he might never be released," Julian explained, feeling a dull ache in the center of his chest still, from just the mere suggestion of such an idea.
"What did you tell him?" Jadzia asked cautiously.
"That it was a foolish idea, that he had a responsibility to our marriage and family and that there was no way he was going to be getting rid of me," Julian replied.
"Did you convince him?" the Trill asked.
"Yes, I reminded him after everything we've been through, he should have learned by now that it never does us any good by trying to break away from the other," he replied.
"Good," Jadzia replied with a happy smile. "I would have hated having to have a talk with him myself. . .or with Worf," she replied with a mischievious smile. Her smile then turned serious again, as her eyes assessed Julian with concern. "How are 'you' feeling?" She realized Julian had told her about his parents, Garak. . .everyone with the exception of himself.
"Emotionally or physically?" the doctor asked with a dull smile.
"Both," the Trill answered.
"Tired," Julian replied simply. That just about explained it all. . . physically and emotionally both, he was starting to feel extremely tired. "I'm going to get some more tea, would you like anything?" Julian asked as he got up from the couch and Dax's hug.
"No thanks, Julian, I can get that for you if you'd like," the Trill offered.
"No, I'm already up, might as well get it myself. I'm wanting to check in on Rochosh anyway," the doctor replied and started for the replicator. As he placed his order though, his head started swimming violently, and the whole room started swaying in front of his eyes. He shook his head to try and clear it, but it only made matters worse. He turned to say something to Jadzia, but before he could get it out, he felt his knees buckle under him. He felt himself falling and couldn't grab on to anything to stop himself. Somewhere far away he heard Dax call out his name before a blanket of darkness descended over him, lulling him into unconsciousness.
When Julian came to, he was lying in bed, with Dax, Sisko, and Dr. Slovik standing over him. "What happened?" He tried to sit up, but was gently pushed back down by Slovik's strong hands.
"Lie still, Julian," the doctor ordered. I need to finish running a scan on you.
Julian laid back, lips pursed and trying desperately to fight back the fear that was threatening to overwhelm him. 'Oh God,' he thought. 'Elim, what have I done now? I can't do this alone, I need you so much.' The young man closed his eyes and tried to breath deeply to calm his nerves.
"Julian?" Dax's voice broke through his haze.
Opening his eyes once again, Julian was shocked to realize that he must have dozed off. Dax was sitting on the bed beside him, but Sisko and Dr. Slovik had both left the room. Once again, he tried to sit up.
"No, Julian you have to lie back and just rest," Jadzia held him while she fixed several pillows to help prop him up in the bed. "Slovik says you're going to be all right. It was a case of hypotension. You have to be careful from now on when you try to get up too quickly." Jadzia looked into the worried eyes of her pregnant friend. "It's okay, Julian. Everything is fine. You just have to make some changes, that's all."
"What kind of changes?" Julian asked in a whisper.
"Well, for one thing, you can't work anymore." Jadzia firmly held the young man down as he protested. "Julian!" she admonished. "What did I just tell you about getting up too quickly!"
Eyes wide with apprehension, Julian laid back against the pillows. "Jadzia, I have to work," he pleaded.
"No, you don't," Dax repeated. "You need to take care of yourself and your baby girl. There will be no compromise, the matter is settled, per order of your doctor and your commanding officer. Do you understand?"
Julian nodded his head. "I guess I did get carried away, and I suppose I could have followed Slovik's orders more closely." Tears formed in the young man's eyes. "Did I cause any harm to my baby?"
Wiping the tears from the doctor's face, Jadzia spoke softly. "Everything is fine, Julian, with you and with the baby. You just have to be careful from now on. We're here to help you Julian, we're not doing this to punish you."
"I know," he answered. "I just wish Elim were here with me."
"We're working on it, Julian. We're working on it," the Trill responded.
Julian looked up with a start. "Rochosh?" he questioned.
"Sssh, he's fine. Right now he's with your mother. I told you, Julian, you don't have to be alone anymore. We're all here for you. Just let us help you." Dax tenderly wiped the young man's face dry with her fingers. Then drawing up the covers she tucked him in. "Rest for a while longer, okay? Slovik says you can go visit Elim a little later, if you're good now, understand?"
Smiling, Julian laid back once again and settled in for a quick nap. Soon he would be with his husband. Julian closed his eyes and drifted off, dreaming of Elim.
In the early evening hours of the same day, Garak was busily working over a piece of fabric that he was stitching together. He had decided to start making their daughter some new clothing, along with some new outfits for Julian that he could wear as the pregnancy progressed further. It wasn't particularly challenging, but it did allow the time to pass quicker. What he was currently working on was a lavender colored sleeper with plum striping throughout it for their baby girl. A noise caught his attention and he looked up to see Julian standing at the archway to his cell.
"I need to see my husband," Julian told the Bajoran officer, currently assigned that duty.
"I'm sorry Sir, but I'm afraid. . ." the guard started.
"Look, I don't want to cause trouble, I'm just wanting to talk to my spouse," Julian replied wearily. "Clear it through Odo if you have to, or I'll even go to Captain Sisko, but one way or another you're letting me in."
Faced with a very determined young superior officer who had the look of not listening to any arguments, the guard backed down hastily. "Fine, Sir, I'll let you in for now, but I'm going to talk to the Captain about this."
"Fine, do what you have to," Julian snapped back, knowing that Sisko would back him up for visitations to Garak.
The field popped and sizzled as it was lowered and Julian stepped through quickly.
Garak noticed that as Julian entered the cell, he was not smiling and looked unsettled. The tailor said nothing as he rose and Julian came to him and took Elim into a hard hug. Elim remained silent, as he hugged his younger spouse back, holding him tightly against his chest. They stayed that way for several minutes, Garak sensing that Julian needed his comforting. When Garak sensed that the younger man was ready to talk, he wordlessly led him over to the small cot. With an arm still around Julian's shoulders, Garak pulled him close and patiently waited.
"Okay, first of all, I have something to tell you that you're not going to like," the doctor finally stated.
Garak had figured as much by his mate's attitude. "What's happened," he asked finally.
"Before I tell you, you've got to promise me that you're not going to be getting upset," Julian replied, wide eyes turned to face the Cardassian.
That comment didn't do anything to ease Garak's apprehension. "I'm not going to promise you that if I don't know what's happened," Garak replied honestly.
Julian took a deep breath and looked his spouse in the eyes. "First of all, you should know that I'm fine and so is the baby." Seeing a look of panic come into Garak's eyes, he quickly continued. "It seems a little while ago I had a fainting spell in our quarters."
"Jahkim, what happened!?!" Garak asked. Concern flashed in his eyes and his hold around Julian automatically got tighter.
"I'm not sure really. One moment I was talking to Jadzia and feeling as normal as usual and then when I went to get some tea from the replicator, I blacked out," Julian explained, his hand stroking one of Elim's.
Garak did his best to remain calm and tried to put on an air of an outward appearance of control, which took all of his years of training to accomplish. "I assume Dax called for Dr. Slovik to see you."
"Yes she did. It seems that what happened was that I suffered from a temporary bout of hypotension because of the pregnancy. He said with proper monitoring, there shouldn't be a reoccurrence," Julian was quick to assure his mate. Looking up, Julian could still see the suspicion and concern in Garak's eyes. "Elim, it's actually very common during Terran pregnancies, so there isn't anything to be too worried about."
There were several comments Garak could have made to the contrary, but decided that Julian needed his support more than anything else. Even though he had said nothing about it, Garak could still tell by the doctor's tone that it had put a scare into him. "I'll take your word that it's normal, but it still concerns me," he remarked finally.
"Elim, I didn't tell you this to frighten you, but I thought you would want to know," Julian replied.
Garak moved around on the cot until he was sitting at the head of it with his back against the wall. He then motioned for Julian to move in between his legs and to rest against his chest. Julian reached behind him to link his arms around the tailor's broad neck while Garak's hands traveled over Julian's abdomen and began making massaging strokes.
"I know you don't want to frighten me and I'm glad you confided in me about this, but you cannot ask me not to worry about you. I'll always worry about you," Garak replied, placing a kiss on the top of Julian's mop of brown hair. Julian dropped his arms, turned his body and wrapped his arms around Garak's midsection. Garak ran a free hand over the length of Julian's back and shoulders. "I'm just glad you're fine and didn't get injured."
He placed a kiss at Julian's temple. "Was Mother there when you fainted as well?" the tailor asked and suddenly felt Julian tense in his arms.
"Julian?" he questioned when no answer came forth.
"Elim, there's something else you should probably know about and I'd rather be the one to tell you than you hearing it from someone else," Julian replied finally.
"I'm listening," Garak replied.
"Mom and Dad are talking about separating," Julian replied in a small quiet voice.
The shock kept Garak silent for a few moments. He never would have guessed that Julian's parent's marriage would be in trouble. It had lasted for so long that it didn't make sense. "What happened?" he asked finally.
"I don't know," Julian replied with a weary sigh. "All I could get out of them is that Dad is keeping something from Mom and she's through putting up with it."
As Garak stroked Julian's dark hair, he thought about all the secrets he still carried with him from his past--secrets that Julian would never know of for his own protection. Even though he was sure Richard's secrets were nothing like his, secrets could still harm a marriage sometimes. He had learned that lesson the hard way during his first marriage. With an effort, he shoved the unbidden thoughts out of his mind. "How are you feeling about it, Jahkim?"
"I don't know, confused I guess. I wish they wouldn't leave me in the dark about all this. I'm not a child any longer, who needs their protection. If something is wrong, I think I have a right to know what it is," Julian replied, cuddling in closer to Garak's warmth.
"Perhaps they don't want to worry you further, Love," Garak replied, his hand gently rubbing the curve of Julian's stomach absently.
"I worry more when I don't know what's going on with the people I care about," Julian responded.
"I know, and I know that this has to be hard on you," Garak replied, his hand coming up to stroke Julian's cheek. "Perhaps it isn't as serious as it seems. Maybe it's a simple misunderstanding," the tailor offered.
"Yes, I think it is a misunderstanding, but if they won't talk to each other about it. . ." Julian's voice trailed off. "Elim, I don't know what I'm going to do, I feel rather helpless about it."
"I'm sure you do, Love," Garak replied. "But you have to remember though that some battles aren't yours to fight. This sounds like this problem has to be dealt with between your mother and father."
"That's what Mom said, she reminded me that I have a baby to look after and didn't need to add extra worries on top of everything else I'm dealing with," Julian confided in him.
"I've always respected your mothers intelligence," Garak replied with a small smile. "She is right, you know,"
"I know Elim," Julian conceded. "But how can I not worry about them? They're my parents."
Not really knowing what he could say to make matters better, Garak just rocked Julian in his arms a bit and held him tight, trying to soothe his mate the only way he could for the time being.
After a while Julian finally moved to sit up, "Well, I don't want to go, but I still need to make dinner for Rochosh yet."
Garak couldn't help smiling at the thought of his little boy who he missed so dearly. "Tell him Jayta loves him."
"I always do," Julian assured him with a weak smile and then looked dejectedly down at the ground. "Elim, I'm really sorry to have brought this to you. You have more than your own share of troubles to deal with right now."
Garak placed a finger under Julian's chin and forced him to meet his eyes. "Jahkim, you are more than welcome here anytime. I *want* to know if something is bothering you. More than that, I want you to know that I will always be here for you. You are never any trouble, my sweet." With that he framed Julian's face with both of his hands and leaned in to give him a very tender kiss.
"Thank you," the younger man whispered and leaned to rest his forehead against the ridged one of the tailor's.
Giving his younger mate a final hug, Garak watched as Julian called for the guard to let him out of the cell. Julian turned back to look one more time at his husband who smiled and mouthed 'I love you' to him. Garak then turned his back to the retreating form to realized that his hands were so tightly balled at his side that his nails were actually drawing droplets of blood from his palms.
He was absolutely furious! Julian shouldn't be having to go through all of this alone! Julian had more than enough to deal with concerning the pregnancy, now his parents on top of it? Gul, what was he going to do? He knew that he could never convince Julian to not worry so much about others, that's just the way he naturally was, but if it ended up causing problems with his health. . .it was already causing him to blackout. What if Julian had been alone and ended up falling on a piece of furniture? What if he had for some reason been on the stairs to the holosuites when it happened? He could have seriously injured himself and the baby!! 'And here you are, sitting in here when he needs you out there!' he reminded himself. He didn't care how many people were watching over Julian, it was his place to be there for his husband, not his coworkers! He couldn't help feel so responsible for his mate's problems. After all, if he hadn't been arrested, Julian wouldn't be spending energy on trying to get him freed, and he'd also be able to support Julian with the pregnancy like he had so wanted to. 'And he didn't want to trouble me?' Garak shook his head with wonder. Why Julian felt he had to take the weight of the whole universe on his shoulders, he didn't know, and he felt so helpless and frustrated because he couldn't help to ease some of his lover's burdens.
"Whoever put me in here is going to pay dearly," he whispered his vow to the empty cell. *****
Later that evening, a visitor was summoned to Garak's holding cell.
The tailor looked at his visitor. The Vulcan stood straight and tall. As usual his facial features did not reveal any of his thoughts. Garak smiled his greeting. "Doctor Slovik, I am so grateful that you could come."
Pulling up a chair and sitting, the doctor looked about the holding cell. "This is not a very desirable place to be in right now, is it, Elim?"
The use of his given name momentarily stunned the Cardassian. The Vulcan took advantage of the situation to continue. "It would appear that you and Julian have had more than your share of the rough times for a marriage. Yet you stay together through it all. I am. . .impressed."
Having recovered his wits about him, Garak once again smiled. "Julian and I are still very much in love, Doctor. I would do anything for him, as he would for me. That is one of the reasons that I asked you here." Garak took a seat on his bunk facing the Vulcan.
"Julian, means more to me than anything in this entire universe. It pains me to think that he is suffering because of me. Tell me, Doctor, how is his health and that of our daughter's?" Just for one fleeting moment Garak could have sworn he saw a look of concern in the Vulcan's eyes. He unconsciously held his breath as he waited for an answer.
"Julian is not well," the doctor began. "He has a tendency to take on the worries of all those about him, this leads to stress, and the stress in turn makes him lose sight of his own health concerns. Captain Sisko, Dax, and the others have started assisting Julian in order to take care of his physical needs. However, none of them, nor myself, can help him when it comes to the emotional burdens that he is carrying. At this time, your daughter is healthy and developing normally. I must remind you, however, that the risk for a miscarriage is still present. Worse yet, would be a stillborn birth." Slovik finished but held the tailor's eyes for just a moment longer.
"Elim, I have come to. . .'feel' as if I am part of this family. Julian's brilliance is only overshadowed by his gentle nature and his love for you and his children. I do believe that the only way we are going to guarantee that he remains salubrious and has a healthy child, is to have 'you' with him. Therefore, I am prepared to assist with the investigation in any way that I can." The Vulcan leaned back in his chair, regaining his composure.
"Thank you," Garak replied. "I know that it must have taken a lot for you to admit to your feelings for my family. I cannot explain how or why, but Julian has always seemed to fair much better whenever I am with him. I will ask Captain Sisko to share the evidence and the results of their investigation with you. Perhaps you will be able to discern something we have missed."
Slovik nodded his head, "Your trust in me is appreciated, I will do my best to assist you and Julian. Never have I come across a more devoted couple." The Vulcan rose and turned to leave.
Garak remained sitting on his bunk, his thoughts focused on Julian. *****
Richard Bashir sat at a corner table in Quark's. He was on his third drink and feeling rather melancholy.
"Mind if I join you?"
Richard looked up at the intruder. Captain Sisko stood beside a chair. Without waiting for an answer, the captain pulled out the chair and sat down.
"I've been looking for you," Sisko stated while waving off the waiter.
"Well, I've been right here. . .drinking my troubles away," Richard replied with a heavy heart.
"So I can see. You do realize, that drinking won't make your troubles go away. They'll still be there after you're done and you'll have a hangover to also deal with." Sisko leaned forward and took the near empty glass from the elder Bashir's fingers.
Richard stared at the captain. "Look here, you may be able to order my son about, but you have no authority over me." He paused briefly while reflecting on some inner thought. "Humph, my 'son' now there's a misnomer. Did you know that my 'son' is pregnant?"
"Yes," Sisko replied.
Bashir looked at the other man, trying to focus his eyes. "You knew? I suppose you approve of this. . .this. . .abnormal behavior?"
Sisko sighed, this was not going to be easy. How could he explain to this man just how much his son meant to him. "Yes, I approve. Julian is a fine young man, his decision to carry the child was admirable."
Again Richard just stared at the captain. "This isn't right. Jules is a man, men don't have babies. It just isn't done."
"Mr. Bashir, there are many species where the male carries the unborn child. . ."
"I am not talking about other species," Richard interrupted. "I am talking about 'my son,' my legacy, my hope."
"Julian is still all of that, and much more," Sisko implied. "What is the problem? Julian is providing you with grandchildren. He is still carrying on the family name. You should be proud of his desire to have children."
"Would you be speaking those same praises if it were 'your' son who was pregnant?" Bashir questioned.
A little voice echoed in Sisko's mind, a voice that said, 'it is my son.' Sisko quietly put the voice to rest. Aloud he responded in all honesty, "Richard, if my son had made the decision and it was what he truly wanted to be happy, then yes, I would be praising him, admiring him, and standing beside him. That's what a father does, he stands by the choices that his child makes, hoping and praying that it is the right choice, but staying with the child, to be there in case it isn't. Julian has made his decision, the best we can do for him now, is to be there for him to help him through the rough spots and celebrate the happy moments."
"You care for him, don't you?" The question was whispered and Sisko almost didn't hear it.
"Yes, Julian means a lot to me," Benjamin replied.
"He means a lot to me also. I just don't want him to be hurt anymore. He's been hurt so much. We never meant to hurt him, we just didn't know. . ." the older man's voice trailed off.
"Then show him how much he means to you. Be there for him. Richard he needs you now, with Garak locked up, Julian is holding in a lot of pain. He needs his father to help him." Sisko's own voice was shaky. He wanted so much to be the one that Julian would turn to, but Richard was here now. Sisko had to step aside and let the young man's father comfort him.
Richard looked at Sisko with tears in his eyes. "I don't know how to comfort him. Jules doesn't listen to me, he doesn't. . .doesn't. . .feel safe with me."
The captain placed his broad hand on the other man's shoulders. "Just be there for him, he'll come around. Right now he needs someone to help him, to be in charge, he's feeling overwhelmed and he can't turn to Elim. Richard, go to him. He suffered a fainting spell earlier today. Dr. Slovik says that Julian will be fine, but that he needs to take it easy. He needs you."
At hearing of Julian's problems, Richard thought back to the moment when he emerged from Amsha's quarters and had run into Julian. The question in Julian's eyes, the need, it was all there and he had chose to ignore him. 'I did it again, didn't I, Jules. I'm coming, I'll make it up to you.' Richard rose and left Quark's with Sisko and headed towards Julian's quarters.
"Grandpa, come play with me," Rochosh begged his grandfather when Richard had entered Julian's quarters.
"In a little while, Rochosh. Grandpa needs to talk with Daddy." The little boy pouted slightly but then ran back to his toys which were still spread out all over the floor.
Julian was busy clearing the supper dishes from the table. He took his time and tried not to make any sudden moves. He was determined not to have a repeat of the earlier fainting incident.
Richard came up and helped Julian. "Why don't you have a seat, I can clear away these dishes in no time," he suggested.
"I'm not helpless, Dad," Julian responded.
Richard sighed. "Jules, I never said that you were. Please, just accept my help."
Julian nodded slowly and then went to have a seat on the sofa, watching his young son playing.
When Richard had finished he came and sat next to his son. Julian regarded his father with a soulful expresion and said quietly, "I'm sorry."
With a confused look, Richard turned towards Julian. "Whatever for, Jules?"
Julian hung his head and bit his lip. Looking up at his father once again he spoke in a quiet tone. "For not being there for you and Mom. I could have helped the two of you, I just didn't know."
Richard stared at his only child in disbelief. His boy was apologizing to him, for not being there to help his parents. 'My God, I never realized what a treasure you really are, my precious darling boy.' Julian had always been like that, showing concern for others, never letting on the pain he himself was feeling. 'I don't deserve him.'
Reaching out and pulling his son into a hug, Richard settled back, holding his child in his arms. "Jules, there is nothing for you to be sorry about. Your mother and I have just had a disagreement. None of it was your fault. No, I am to blame, and I will work it out with your mother."
"What happened?" The question was muffled as Julian leaned more into his fathers embrace. He longed to be held so much.
"I had some business problems. In my stubbornness I neglected to let your mother know, well, one thing led to another and now she thinks I'm hiding something from her."
Julian sat upright. "What? Are you?"
Reclaiming his son and pulling him back down, Richard gently soothe the younger man. "Jules, I love your mother." He paused to consider his next words. "I love her as much as you love Elim. However there are some things that, right now, I prefer to keep to myself. My new business partner and I have spent a lot of time and energy getting the new company up and running. Your mother doesn't need to worry herself with all the little details, that's my job. In a few weeks everything will be straightened out, and I'll be free to tell her everything." As he spoke he tenderly ran his hands up and down his son's arms and back. Placing a kiss on Julian's forehead, he continued, "When Amsha confronted me, I overreacted and we argued. I stormed out, when I returned she was gone. I thought she came here. She always comes to be with you, it helps to calm her nerves."
"Dad, why don't you just tell her what you told me? She still loves you," Julian asked.
"She won't listen to me now. Seems that I have a knack for hurting the people that I love." His arms tightened about his son. "I just have to get her alone for a while, to explain. Everything is going to be all right. Don't worry, Jules, don't worry." Richard gently stroked his fingers through his son's soft hair.
"Now, Jules, why don't you tell me something," Richard suggested.
"Like what?" Julian asked in confusion.
"Tell me about the baby. Tell me why." They both reclined on the sofa, Julian resting in his fathers warm embrace, watching his young son playing as he and Richard talked about marriage and babies. Both men reaching out and finally finding each other. *****
Kira sat alone in the Replimat, nursing a cold cup of coffee. Her mind kept drifting back to her graphic dreams of late. What could they mean? Why couldn't she locate Myral? Something wasn't right, but what?
It was almost a week since the dreams turned more disturbing. What was Myral trying to tell her? What was she painting? She had to solve this, she couldn't go to Sisko, he was so worried about Julian. Odo had his hands full trying to locate that mysterious woman who visited the station about the same time as the murder. No, this was something she would have to do on her own.
With weary eyes Kira glanced around taking notice for the first time of the people about her. Her eyes came to rest on the lone figure sitting at one of the side tables. The Vulcan was just finishing his meal. Without realizing what she was doing, the major rose from her seat and walked slowly towards Doctor Slovik.
"Excuse me, Doctor?" Kira's voice was barely above a whisper.
"Yes," answered the doctor. "Ah, Major Kira, isn't it?"
Nodding a greeting, the Bajoran took a deep breath and plunged onward. "I was wondering if you could help me?"
Noticing the nervousness in the question, as well as the tired eyes, Slovik indicated for Kira to take a seat. "Major, how may I assist you?"
Swallowing nervously, Kira wondered just what she had gotten herself into. Yet, in the back of her mind she knew that she needed help, and that this man could possibly be the only one who could help her.
"I remember how you helped Julian a few years back, when everyone thought he was losing his grip on reality." Kira stopped for a moment, then taking a deep breath and continued. "I've been having these dreams. . ."
As if the flood gates had opened, Kira found herself telling Slovik everything. Encouraged by the man's interest and subtle prodding, she left out no details. When she had finished, she felt as if a great burden had been lifted from her shoulders. Still wary, she eyed the Vulcan, wondering what he would make of the dreams.
Leaning back in his chair, hands folded across his chest, Slovik's analytical mind sorted through all the details. "Major, do you know what it was that Myral was painting on the canvas in blood?"
Sadly, Kira shook her head. "I've been wondering about that myself. Myral was never an artist, I never saw her painting before, so I can't understand why I would have dreamed something like that."
"Would you mind if we did a dream regression therapy session?" Slovik asked.
"A what? What do you want to do?" Kira responded with trepidation.
"There's a technique that I learned many years ago. It is similar to hypnosis, however, in it I will guide you through your dream, helping you to recall the details that you may have thought you didn't see. It is a very simple procedure and should cause no harm," Slovik replied.
The Bajoran thought for a few moments before answering. "Will this help me understand the dreams and solve my problems?"
With a slightly raised eyebrow, Slovik cautiously respond. "Major, there is no guarantee with any procedure of this nature. I cannot say that it will help you understand or solve any problems. However, if it does work, it should ease your mind. Other than that, I will not make any promises."
"Well, nothing else is working, and I have to get to the bottom of this. All right, let's do this dream regression thing." With her mind set, Kira followed Slovik back to the Infirmary.
Doctor Slovik led the way to his temporary office. Kira sat in the chair as Slovik pulled up a stool in front of her.
"Major, I am going to induce the hypnotic state with the use of this object." Slovik held up the palm-sized prism, its colors flashing in the light of the room.
Taking a deep breath to relax herself, Kira followed the doctor's instructions. The last thing she remembered was thinking about how foolish she would feel if this didn't work.
"Major Kira, I am going to bring you out of the hypnotic state, you will remember everything we have talked about. On the count of three, when I snap my fingers you will return to full consciousness, one. . .two . . .three." The Vulcan then snapped his fingers.
The Bajoran blinked her eyes. "By the Prophets, I didn't know, I really didn't know. I have to speak with Sisko and Odo right away." She got up to head towards the door. Turning back, Kira said in a quieter voice, "Thank you, Doctor. You seem to have made a habit out of saving the people on DS9."
"Indeed," Slovik replied as Kira rushed out.
As she entered Sisko's office, Nerys breathe a sigh of relief at seeing almost the entire senior staff already present. Only Worf and Julian were missing. Coming in as she did in the middle of a discussion, all eyes turned towards the major's entrance.
"I know who killed Orian Soban," she announced.
"What? Who?" Dax asked incredulously.
Kira related all she knew from her dreams and what she had learned from her session with Slovik. Myral had been painting the body of a dead man, with his throat slit and hands cut off and laid upon his chest. The man she recognized as Orian. "He must have been the one who caused the explosion that injured Johda," she whispered in closing. When she had finished, she looked eagerly into the faces of her companions.
Odo spoke hesitantly. "This does explain a lot of the missing pieces, and if Garak can identify a picture of Mtral as the woman who was in his shop we have her placed on DS9 at the time of the murder. However, that's all." He glanced over at Kira. "I'm sorry, Major, but I can't arrest the woman on the basis of a dream."
Before the Bajoran could respond, Sisko interjected his own thoughts on the subject. "Odo is correct, we have no solid evidence against Myral. We need more, and we need it now." Looking at each of the determined faces in front of him, the captain issued his orders. After his crew had left to complete their tasks, Sisko sat back. For the first time in weeks, he began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Julian sat with his feet resting on the sofa, he was surrounded by the data padds containing all the new evidence his friends were gathering against Myral. The captain, true to his word, had dropped off the padds along with dinner for Julian and Rochosh. The young doctor still was upset that he was not allowed to be a part of the effort to free his innocent husband. Yet he felt relief that his friends have been so instrumental in Garak's cause. For a long time, Julian just laid on the sofa, staring at the picture of the woman who had caused so much anguish for his family. Looking into the saddened eyes, Julian could feel no hatred towards her, only pity.
He must have lost track of time, Julian didn't hear his son's voice until the little boy began shaking him.
"Daddy, Daddy, what wrong?" Rochosh's voice quivered with concern.
Rousing himself, Julian quickly hugged his little boy. "Nothing, sweetheart. Daddy was just daydreaming, that's all."
"Rochosh sit with Daddy?" the boy asked as he tried to climbed up onto the sofa to lie next to his father.
Julian moved the padds aside, as he raised himself up higher and helped his child climbed into his lap. Cradling the boy in his arms, Julian began to stroke the silken black hair.
"What Daddy dream about? Daddy dream about Jayta?" Rochosh asked. "When Jayta come home, Daddy? I miss Jayta." The boy settled in closer to his father, his head placed over Julian's heart.
Julian placed a kiss on Rochosh's forehead. He smiled as the boy snuggled closer. It seemed that both of his loves liked to place their heads where they could hear Julian's steady heartbeat.
"Daddy misses Jayta too. I dream about him all the time," Julian responded softly.
When Rochosh didn't respond, Julian just held him tighter and glanced over at the scattered padds. How could he ever explain to his boy that his father was taken away because he, the enhanced super doctor, couldn't save the life of another child's father. To add to his grief, Julian also knew that there was no solid evidence against the woman. Yes, Elim had identified her as the one in his shop, and Orian did cause the explosion that injured Johda, but that was it, other than Kira's dream. How could he explain to a three-year-old, that he knew who could help his Jayta but couldn't do anything about it. There was no other evidence to link the woman to the crime. Julian sighed audibly.
Rochosh brought his head up at the sound of his fathers sigh, reaching out with his tiny hand, the boy gently stroked his daddy's face. "It okay, Daddy. Jayta come home soon to take care of Daddy and Rochosh." Then wrapping both little arms around Julian's neck, the boy gave his daddy a big kiss. "Daddy feel better?"
Returning the hug and kiss, Julian smiled tenderly at his child. "Rochosh always makes daddy feel better," he replied.
As Rochosh shifted positions on his fathers lap, he pulled out a data padd that had fallen between them and the back of the sofa. "Who the lady, Daddy?" he asked, looking at the photo-image of Myral.
Julian reached out for the padd. "Just someone I thought who could help, that's all."
Rochosh giggled. "Lady play game with Rochosh."
Panic gripped the young father. "What? Do you know this woman, Rochosh?" Had she tried to hurt his son? 'Oh God, what more do you want from me? I'm so sorry." Julian's frantic thoughts caused him to tighten his hold on Rochosh. The boy whined and began to squirm. Releasing his tight grip, Julian asked again, "It's all right, son. Daddy just needs to know, have you seen this woman before?"
Somehow, sensing his fathers need to know the truth, Rochosh thought carefully before answering. "Lady come in when Daddy busy in sur. . .surg. . .surgery," the boy struggled to pronounce the word.
"She came into the Infirmary when Daddy was in surgery?" Julian asked softly. Rochosh nodded his head.
"Where was everyone else?" Julian wondered aloud.
"They all help Daddy," the boy replied helpfully. "Man fall and get hurt real bad."
Julian thought back, that was the day he and Elim were accosted at lunch, their wedding anniversary. Myral was on DS9 just before the murder, but what was she doing in the Infirmary? "Rochosh," Julian spoke quietly so as not to alarm the boy. "Sweetheart, what kind of game did the lady play with you?"
"When Daddy busy, lady come in and go to where Daddy keep sca. . . scal. . ." again the boy struggled with the words.
"Scalpels?" Julian suggested. Rochosh nodded his head in agreement.
"Then lady see Rochosh. She put her finger to lips and say we play quiet game. She just need to borrow one. Tell Rochosh not to say anything." The boy looked expectantly at his father.
"You saw her take a scalpel?" Rochosh nodded, this time tears filled his eyes. Julian was swift to respond, wiping the tears away. "No, no, darling. It's all right, you didn't do anything wrong." Julian's heartbeat had picked up pace, his boy had just provided them with the missing piece, the evidence needed to arrest Myral and free Elim! He hugged his son and began to rock him back and forth, tears streaming from his own eyes.
"Daddy not mad?" the boy asked in confusion.
"No, Rochosh, Daddy isn't mad. You just helped your Jayta!" Julian's voice shook with sobs of joy.
Rochosh leaned into his daddy's embrace, happy to know that he helped his Jayta. How he did, he didn't understand, but his daddy was happy so he was also. Jayta would be coming home soon, everything was going to be all right.
A short while later, Julian was leaning back in the sofa and watching Odo's reaction carefully. "What more do you need?" he asked impatiently when the constable didn't respond. "Odo, she had access to Elim's shop, she stole my laser scalpel, and she had a motive!"
"Yes, Doctor, all of what you say is true. Myral is most probably the real murderer. However, we need to erase all doubt, we need more before I'll arrest her." The Changeling spoke with determination.
Julian stared disbelievingly at the constable. "More?' his voice was barely a whisper. "What more could you need? She committed a murder and framed my husband. Elim is locked up away from his son, away from me and she's still free. What more is there?!?"
Odo reached out to take hold of the young man beside him. "Doctor, you must calm yourself." He waited in silence as Julian slowly regained control. When he was sure that the doctor was indeed relaxed, Odo took the opportunity to explain further.
"Doctor, when Myral is arrested, and I assure you she will be, I want everything to be in order so there will be no doubt as to her guilt. I realize that you want Garak released and back home with you, however, don't you also want his name to be cleared? Do you want any lingering suspicion to follow him?"
The Terran sadly agreed, his spouse's freedom will have to wait for a while longer. They had come so close, so close to Elim's freedom, only to have it snatched away. It wasn't fair, he had to do something.
"Odo, where is Myral now?" he asked.
"After the major explained everything she and Dr. Slovik had discovered, I did a thorough check on her whereabouts. It seems that she was the mysterious Bajoran woman who arrived on DS9 using false credentials. She also never left, she's still here." Odo watched the younger man's eyes grow wide with apprehension.
"Still here?!? My God, Odo, she's already approached my son once, what if she had tried to hurt him, or. . ." Julian voiced died down as his breathing suddenly constricted.
"Doctor, if you do not calm yourself, I will have to call Doctor Slovik. Is that what you want?" the constable questioned sternly. He was relieved when Julian's tension once again eased. "Doctor, I do not believe that she would hurt the boy. If she wanted to, don't you think she would have done something by now?" He knew that what he said wasn't necessarily true, but felt that the younger man needed to hear the soothing words.
They sat in silence for a few minutes. Julian struggled to gain control. He had a plan forming in his mind and Odo would never agree to it, if he couldn't keep himself from becoming hysterical every couple of minutes.
"Odo?" Julian ventured. "Would it help if we got a confession from Myral? Would that be enough to arrest her and free Elim?"
"Doctor, a confession would be not only helpful but necessary in this case," Odo admitted with suspicion as he watched Julian.
"What if I can get that confession for you?" Julian asked keeping his voice steady and emotion free.
"Doctor, what do you have in mind?" Odo leaned forward, his interest piqued despite his reservations.
"Well, she more than likely wouldn't talk if you arrested her. She would deny everything, and then we'd just have the circumstantial evidence, but not enough to place her with Orian in that room when he was killed. She knows you don't have anything on her, that's why she risked staying here and seeing the whole plan through. Watching as Elim was arrested and taken from his family, watching me and Rochosh suffer, just like. . .just like she suffered." Julian had to stop and bring himself back from the verge of another outburst.
Odo observed the slight shakiness in the lilting accented voice. Giving the young man time to compose himself he then pushed further. "Doctor, all of what you have said is true, but you have not told me just what it is you have in mind?"
"Let me talk with her, Odo. No. please hear me out," Julian added as Odo began to protest.
"I'm the only one who can do it, you know that. She won't talk with anyone else. She wants to see my suffering, she wants to see the pain that I feel. Don't you understand, Odo? Yes, she killed Orian because he caused the accident that led to her husband's death, but me. . .I was the one who didn't save her husband, I let him die. It's not Elim she wanted revenge on, it's me!" Try as he might, Julian couldn't prevent the tears from rolling down his flushed cheeks.
The constable, stayed motionless for a few minutes, pondering over what Julian had just said. Then he slowly nodded his head. "You're right, Doctor. You are probably the only one who could get her to talk, to confess. However, the risk is too great for you and for your unborn child. She may try to do bodily harm to you."
"It's the chance I have to take, Odo. I have to get my husband free. Please understand why I have to do this, Odo, please." Drying his tears with the back of his hand, Julian tried to present a more confident image to the Changeling. "Besides, you'll be there with me, won't you?"
Again Odo nodded, that was true. He had no intention of letting the young officer go to see that woman without his accompanying him. Yet he still felt they were taking a terrible risk to the doctor's well-being. Then again, what other choice did they truly have. "Very well, Doctor. We will try this plan of yours. I will be with you, but understand that she may try to attack you before I've had the chance to reform. You have to be on the alert at all times, please understand that."
"Let me see if I can get my mother to take care of Rochosh for a while. If we don't do this now, I may not be able to later." Julian concentrated as he readied himself physically, mentally, and emotionally for his confrontation with the woman who had tried to destroy his life.
While Julian was in Rochosh's bedroom, Odo contacted Major Kira and informed her of their plans. She wasn't happy but would be there as soon as she could.
Julian stood nervously outside the door to Myral's room. She had been under surveillance ever since her identity was established. Odo's men had confirmed her presence in the room. Gently rubbing his belly for luck, he rang the chime. The door slid open and he stood face to face with the latest tormentor in his life.
"Myral, may I speak with you?" Julian's voice was soft, yet hoarse with the sudden dryness of his throat. For a few moments, which seemed to stretch into eternity, the two stared at each other.
Glancing behind the doctor, then to the left and right of him, Myral must have been satisfied that he had come alone. She stepped back from the entranceway to allow Julian to pass. As the door closed behind him, Myral led the young man to the only seats in the room. Neither had noticed the small mouse that had crept in behind them.
"I've been expecting you, Doctor. It has taken you a long time to locate me. I thought you were supposed to be intellectually enhanced." The words were spoken quietly with just a hint of patronizing. Myral sat down on one of the chairs indicating the second seat for Julian.
"I have been kept very busy," Julian admitted. He chose his words carefully. "You left quite a few clues indicating my husband in a murder that we both know he didn't commit."
Shifting slightly in her seat, Myral smiled at Julian. "Why Doctor, I have no idea what you're talking about. But let me ask you this. How does it feel, Doctor? How does it feel to go to sleep alone at night, to wake up without the love of your life lying next to you? How does it feel explaining to your child why his father is gone?" The angry words spat across the room, hitting their mark. Julian cringed at the heated venomous hatred he felt.
Fighting back the stinging sensation in his eyes, Julian spoke cautiously. "It hurts, like nothing has ever before. I think you already know that. Myral, I am sorry for your loss, but taking away my husband isn't going to bring back yours."
The Bajoran jumped to her feet crossing the few steps to stand in front of Julian. Glaring down at him, her eyes bore deep into his soul. "Sorry? Is that all you have to say for killing my husband?"
"Myral, I didn't kill your husband, I tried to save his life. The sepsis had already caused irreversible damage before he was even brought to me," Julian tried to reason with the woman.
"Lies, all lies," Myral shouted. She began pacing the floor in front of the doctor. "Johda didn't want to go to a doctor, he knew what would happen." She stopped to fix her dreaded stare upon Julian. "You're just like all the others, those Cardassian doctors in the prison camps. That's why you married one, so the two of you could continue to torture the unsuspecting Bajorans once again."
Julian shook his head adamantly. "No, no Myral, it's not like that. I would never knowingly harm another person, never." He spoke firmly with such conviction that Myral turned away once again. Julian felt his daughter move within him, he rubbed at his abdomen, desperately trying to calm himself.
Slowly, the woman straightened her back. Turning back towards Julian, she noticed his movements. She said nothing, but instead walked over to the table where she poured out two drinks from the bottle on the table. "Here, drink this," she ordered handing the glass to the young man.
"What is it?" Julian questioned.
"Don't worry, I won't poison you. Why should I deny you the pain of watching your husband being taken from you forever?" Taking a seat, she took a sip from her own glass as if to show the truth to her statement.
Julian thanked her, but did not drink. He was developing another headache and he was feeling very tired.
"Myral," he began. "I have tried to explain things to you. Please understand that I did not do any harm to your husband. If you are angry at me, then let us talk things out, but please don't take it out on my husband."
"We are talking, Doctor. You are asking me to provide the proof needed to free your husband, and I am telling you no." Myral smiled once again. Suddenly she leaned forward, "Did you know that they took my child? My husband's family thought that I was unfit to care for her? Tell me, Doctor, what would you do without your husband and your child?"
Julian's eyes widened. Was this woman threatening Rochosh? "I would die of a broken heart without them," he responded quietly. "Is that what you want Myral, you want to take away my husband and my child, and then watch me die?"
"Yes," came the reply. That one word spoken so quietly yet with a deadly force behind them.
"So all of this, the murder, framing Elim, everything was to lead up to my death?" Julian's heart beat faster, he began to wonder just where Odo was.
Myral was up and pacing again. "Orian deserved to die, the fool. He lied, he said he knew what he was doing." She stopped in the middle of the room, wrapping her arms about herself. A slow laugh began to build up in her chest and throat. Soon the room was filled with the maniacal laughter. "You know, you're right, Doctor. Why should I bother with the waiting, I should just take care of you right here and now." From the pocket of her dress, she withdrew a Bajoran hand phaser.
Julian swallowed nervously. "Tell me how you did it," he requested.
"What? The murder? The evidence? Just what makes you think I know anything," she asked with a gleam in her eyes.
"You're going to kill me anyway, so why not let me know the truth,: Julian insisted. He fought to keep his eyes from glancing about the room wondering just where Odo was. Was he even there?
"Don't worry, it's set on stun. I still have quite a lot more for you to experience first, before I kill you. But I'll grant you, your last request. There may not be enough time. . .later." Still holding the phaser on Julian, Myral moved back to stand in front of him.
"More?" Julian questioned. "Don't hurt my son," he pleaded.
The woman snuffed at him. "Just what kind of a person do you think I am? I would never hurt a child, never!"
She shifted and pulled the other chair closer until she was able to sit in the chair and still hold the phaser aimed at Julian's chest. "It was so easy, really." She laughed once again. "I was there you know. I was there when Orian assaulted you in the restaurant. Just a few seats over. I heard everything, I loved the part where your Cardassian threatened to remove Orian's hands from you. What a stroke of genius I had then. I had already stolen the scalpel to cut Orian's throat, but what a perfect additional use for it."
She paused and brought the phaser up to Julian's chin. "Don't you think that was clever of me? It just added more to the mounting evidence against your husband. Now where was I? Oh yes, Orian was so pleased to see me. He let me into his quarters, full of apologies and lies, trying to gain my forgiveness. It was easy enough to drug him. Being in the Resistance, one came across all kinds of weapons and drugs. I must say, that I had hoped Orian would feel some of the pain, but I didn't want a struggle, so I used the drug. It felt so good to slice open that lying throat. Good thing I did it from behind, that blood spurted out of him like a water fountain."
Quietly, in the corner of the room behind Myral, Odo began to shapeshift back to his usual form. Myral's senses must have been on alert, as she swiftly stood grabbing hold of Julian and placing the phaser to his temple, in the process switching the setting from stun to kill.
"Come any closer, shapeshifter, and I will kill him." Myral jerked Julian's head back with her other arm.
Julian's hands instinctively came to his distended stomach, feeling his baby's movements in response to her fathers situation.
At that moment, the door to the room opened and Kira rushed in, followed closely by Sisko.
"Myral, don't," Kira pleaded with her friend. I heard the entire conversation through Julian's combadge. "It's over, Myral. There's no chance of escape."
'Oh, I have no intention of escaping, Nerys. I plan to die right along with the doctor." Myral's ethereal smile contradicted the hatred in her eyes.
Kira moved closer. "Myral, listen to me. Julian did not kill Johda, he tried to save his life. By the time we got him here, it was just too late for Johda."
Myral didn't move, and didn't show any signs of listening to Kira. The major decided to take another approach. "Myral, I am sorry to hear about Anora. You were a good mother, they should not have taken her from you. You told Julian that you would never hurt a child, and I believe you."
Myral's eyes flickered in comprehension. Kira took a deep breath and continued. "If you kill Julian, you'll be killing a child right along with him. Myral, he's pregnant.'
Myral's hand faltered slightly. She frowned as she responded. "Don't lie to me, Nerys. He's a Terran. Terran males are like Bajoran males, he can't have a child." Her grip around Julian's neck tightened. The doctor struggled to breathe.
"Remember that enhanced intelligence you heard about, Myral? Julian found a way, a way to carry his Cardassian spouse's child. He did it, Myral, I wouldn't lie to you about this. Julian is pregnant." The Bajoran major took another step closer to her old friend.
Myral released Julian's neck and, while keeping the phaser still pointed at his head, brought her hand down to Julian's abdomen. Gently she probed, and gasped in surprise as she felt the baby move under her fingers.
"What have I done?" Myral asked. She released Julian and removed the phaser from his head. In an instant Odo was by her side removing the weapon from her grip. Kira moved in then to stand face to face with her old friend.
"Why Myral? Why did you do it? Julian didn't kill Johda, it was an accident. If Johda would have just seen a doctor when it happened, he would still be alive today." The major gazed into her friend's eyes but Myral had already retreated into her own safe retreat somewhere in the recesses of her mind.
Odo allowed the woman to be led away. "Take her to the Infirmary, I want Doctor Slovik to examine her," he ordered his deputies. Satisfied that Julian was now safe, Kira accompanied Myral. She was going to need a friend more than ever now.
"Captain, I need to contact some officials on Bajor. They'll want to take charge of Myral and get her the help she needs. I don't think she'll be standing trial for a while," Odo stated. "I'll also take care of that other matter we discussed." With a nod, Odo left the room.
Sisko was helping Julian stand. "Julian, just what did you think you were doing? You placed yourself and your unborn daughter in grave danger," he voice shook with undisguised fury. Checking the young man over to make sure that no harm was done, Sisko then pulled him into an embrace. "Don't ever pull something like this again, is that clear?"
"Yes, Sir," Julian's voice was muffled by the tight embrace.
Releasing the younger man, Sisko sighed in relief. "You had me worried. I thought I would have to explain to Garak just how we managed to lose his husband and baby. I didn't relish the thought."
"I was pretty worried myself for a while there. I'm just glad I was able to help free Elim. Elim! Captain, I have to see Elim!" Julian started to leave when a strong hand grabbed hold of his arm.
"Not so fast, young man. You are heading for the Infirmary, I want you checked out. No arguments, that's an order, Lieutenant," Sisko commanded. "Odo still has to take care of some paperwork, you can see Garak later at your usual time."
Julian reluctantly allowed himself to be led to the Infirmary, where he spent the next few hours, until Slovik released him. Before he could head towards his husband, Kira asked if he would accompany her as she saw Myral off. Sensing the major's need for companionship, Julian could not refuse.
Julian stood at the entrance to the docking-ring. Silently he stood by Major Kira's side as both watched the doors rolled shut. Their last view of Myral was that of the Bajoran woman wearing a pair of cuffs about her wrists, being escorted into the Veracruz. The cruiser would be taking Myral to the Dahkur Province where she would receive psychiatric help before being brought up on the charge of first degree murder. Just as the door of the hatch shut, Myral took one last look at the station's officers. The mixture of sorrow and despair was salient in her eyes and she looked to her long-time friend for understanding, only to be met with stern, unwavering, brown eyes of the Major. Julian watched the exchange wordlessly, surprised slightly at the fact he was feeling empathetic towards the woman. The same woman who nearly caused him to lose his husband, the woman who had committed a heinous crime; who should have evoked feelings of hatred and revulsion, but instead only gained sympathy from the young doctor because he realized that her actions were born out of the hurt of losing her life's love--something that Julian was able to relate to all too well since he himself had been put perilously close to the same situation before.
"Well, I guess that's it," the Major replied flatly.
"I suppose so," Julian replied. Then after a brief pause, "Do you think she's going to be able to make a recovery?"
"You're the doctor, you tell me," Kira snapped, then looked at Julian and sighed. "I'm sorry."
"That's all right, Major, it's not everyday you find out that an old friend is capable of murder. . .even if she wasn't in her right mind," Julian replied.
"I never knew Johda's death had affected her so strongly," Kira replied, "and I still feel like I'm still responsible for it somehow."
Julian placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Nerys, you've got to stop blaming yourself and let go of the guilt. Johda's death wasn't your fault, any more than mine, regardless of what Myral might have thought. He was too far gone to be able to save when you brought him in."
"I know, and you're right, but still. . ." her voice trailed off, before she went on to her next thought. "You know, I wonder why she chose Garak to set up to take the fall for the murder if it was really me she thought was responsible for his death."
"She thought you and I had equal blame in his death and since I was not only unable to save him, but also married to someone she still considered an enemy, it only made sense that she tried to destroy me and my family instead of you," Julian answered. "After all, even in her hatred, she still considered you her friend."
Kira was silent for a moment before speaking, "The strange thing is, I still consider her a friend myself." She couldn't help feeling guilty even as she said it.
"That's not so strange when you stop to consider all the years of friendship you had with her," Julian reminded her. "Besides, with the therapy she will be receiving, there's no reason to think she won't recover completely." Slovik had told him that the chance would be good and he chose to believe it at that moment.
Kira gave him a curious look. "Julian, how can you be so understanding when she could have had Garak convicted for her crime?"
"Because," Julian replied softly, "I almost had to face the same type of loss she did when Ruygo nearly succeeded in his attempts to take Elim from me." There was still a slight tone of fear and sadness that tinted his voice as he spoke. "While I don't condone her actions in the least, I can certainly understand the feelings that drove her to them."
Kira looked into Julian's eyes, not knowing how to comment, as she too remembered the loss she felt after Bareil died. Finally, she pulled herself from her thoughts and gave Julian's hand a squeeze. "Come on, I think you've had enough excitement for one day. Time for you to go back to your quarters and get some rest." Her hand came down and playfully patted his stomach.
It had indeed felt like a very long day. "You're right and I will just as soon as I pick up Rochosh from my mothers. I'm wanting to take him to go see Elim."
Kira smiled and nodded as they parted ways, she going in the direction of Ops, while he headed towards the habitat-ring. He soon sounded the chime and the door slid open to reveal his mother smiling broadly at him with Rochosh in her arms.
"Jules dear, how did it go? Has she left yet?" she asked, but not moving to allow him enough room to enter.
Julian gave her a curious look but said nothing about it. "Yes, there were no problems while she was leaving. Her ship left just a few moments ago."
"That's wonderful! I'm so relieved to have mess over with so Elim can finally come back home where he belongs," she replied with a bittersweet smile. "I know how much you've missed him."
"Jayta coming home?" Rochosh asked, excitedly squirming in his Yanna's arms.
"That's right, sweetie. He'll be coming home very soon," his Yanna answered. "Do you know when he's suppose to be released?"
"Well, I'm assuming that it will take Odo at least a day or so for all the paperwork to finally be completed," Julian answered in a somewhat wistful voice.
"He'll be back very soon though, and in plenty of time to be there for my granddaughter's birth too," Amsha replied with a smile.
Julian smiled in return and his hand went to his stomach again as the baby moved and kicked inside him.
"You don't know how grateful I am of that too," Julian assured her and then focused his attention on his son. "Well, are you ready to go Rochosh?"
"Jules, if you'd like, Rochosh could stay here for the night," Amsha offered, even as the boy squirmed out of her arms.
"Thank you, Mother, but no, I want to take him to go see Elim," Julian replied, taking hold of his son's hand.
"Carry Rochosh?" the boy asked, stretching his arms up towards his daddy.
"Sorry, my sweet, but I can't," Julian told the boy, who took his hand again.
"But, Jules, wouldn't you rather be well rested for when Elim does come home?" Amsha asked
"I'll be fine, Mother, having Rochosh home isn't going to keep me from getting rest," he assured her.
"Well if you change your mind, you know he's more than welcome here," she replied and bent down to give her grandson a kiss on the cheek before doing the same to Julian. "Give Elim my love, dear."
"I will," he promised and led his little boy out into the corridor. As the door slid shut, Julian missed the smile that spread over his mothers features.
He and Rochosh were halfway down the corridor when they ran into O'Brien coming from the opposite direction. Miles hesitated for a second and then spoke.
"Julian, I was just on my way to come see you," the Irishman stated.
"Well, I was on my way to take Rochosh to see Elim, what could I do for you?" Julian asked.
Miles hesitated for half a second. "Well, I was hoping to get back the racquetball racquet I lent you ages ago. Lieutenant Morris and I want to play a game this afternoon in the holosuites."
"I'm sorry, Chief, but can't it wait? I really want to see Elim. Miles we've arrested the real killer, Elim is going to be free," Julian replied, wondering why it was so important all of a sudden for Miles to get a racquet back when it had been over a year since he had lent it to him.
"That's wonderful news, Julian, but it won't take you a minute," Miles replied, "Besides, isn't it close to Rochosh's nap time?"
"Rochosh already took nap!" the little boy wailed.
"You heard him, Chief, now I really do have to get going," Julian replied, working his way around Mile's body to get past.
"But what about my racquet?" Miles called out before Julian got out of range.
"Later Miles, later," he called back and set back to his original destination.
They were on the Promenade and nearly to Odo's office before they were stopped again, only this time by Captain Sisko who spotted them as he was on his way to Ops.
"Doctor Bashir, shouldn't you be home and in bed resting?" Sisko's rich baritone voice asked.
Julian let out an audible sigh. "Captain, I need to go and see Elim."
Sisko gave the young doctor a once over with a critical gaze. "No, I don't think so. With everything that's happened, it has you looking exhausted. I want you to go home and at least take a nap. Your daughter needs her father in good shape."
"But Captain, I. . ."
"No buts, Doctor!" Sisko's voice took on the no nonsense tone that beseemed his title. "If I have to order you to go see Dr. Slovik, I will. It's up to you. Go back to your quarters now or go directly to the Infirmary."
An unhappy frown marred Julian's features. "I suppose I'll go back home," he replied finally, sounding slightly defeated.
"I thought you might," Benjamin replied, baring his teeth with a large satisfied smile. "And to make sure you do, I think I'll accompany you."
"That won't be necesarry Sir," Julian implored.
Sisko hoisted Rochosh into his arms, which drew a giggle from the the boy. "Oh, I insist, Doctor," he replied in a tone that let Julian know he wasn't taking 'no' for an answer.
Knowing when he was facing a losing battle, Julian resigned himself that his hopes of seeing Elim were being temporarily thrawted and followed the captain as he was escorted across the Promenade back to the habitat-ring. As he walked behind him, Julian was oblivious to the mischievous glint in the captain's eyes. They were nearly to his and Elim's quarters when Benjamin's comm badge chirped at him.
"Sisko here," he called touching the communicator with his free hand.
"Captain, there is an incoming message from Rear Admiral Bennett and it sounds urgent," the voice of Kira replied.
"Tell him I'll be there immediately," he replied, setting Rochosh down as he spoke. "Sisko out."
He then turned to Julian. "Now I want you to go straight home, Doctor, and no arguments."
"Yes, Sir," Julian replied, taking hold of his boy's hand once again.
As he watched Sisko leave, he felt Rochosh tug on his hand. "What is it, buddy?"
"Daddy been bad?" the little boy asked with concerned eyes.
"What do you mean, darling?" Julian asked.
"When Rochosh bad, Daddy send to room. Why Uncle Ben send Daddy home?" the boy asked.
Julian couldn't help smiling. "You've got me son, but I think we should go talk to Auntie Jadzia." Maybe she could help him get to Elim.
Roshoch grinned up at his father, hoping that his Auntie Dax would have some more replicated chocolate cupcakes to give him like she did last time.
Julian sounded the chime at her door and soon it swung open. Jadzia looked very surprised to see him at first but she quickly covered it.
"Julian, Rochosh, what can I do for you?" she asked, as she moved to let Julian and her godson enter.
"Jadzia, I could use your help," Julian implored as Rochosh was grabbed up into a hug. "I've been trying to get to Elim since Myral left, but everyone keeps trying to stop me. I almost made it once, but then Captain Sisko actually ordered me back home!"
The Trill looked pensively at her friend. "That does sound rather strange, but maybe I can help after all."
"You think so?" Julian asked hopefully.
Jadzia flashed him a bright smile. "I think I can manage to run some interference for you if Benjamin tries to give you anymore trouble."
"Thank you so much, Dax," Julian sighed with relief.
"No problem, let's go," she replied as the door opened again.
With Rochosh in her arms, Dax started to lead Julian down the corridor, but they didn't get to far before she stopped in her tracks.
"Oh, wait a minute," she implored as she turned around again.
"What is it?" Julian asked, his frustration starting to build.
"I forgot Slovik's psychiatric evaluation. He gave it to me to give to Odo, and since we're going there anyway, I might as well take it," the Trill explained. "That reminds me, what about those criminal reports Odo gave you to look over?"
"What about them?" Julian asked.
"Might as well take them back while we're at it, don't you think?" she asked.
"You're probably right, they're back in my quarters though," Julian replied.
"Tell you what," Jadzia suggested as she set Rochosh down. "Why don't you take Rochosh and go get the reports while I get Slovik's evaluation and meet you back here in a couple of minutes?"
"Okay," Julian conceded, "Just don't leave me. I'm going to need you if the captain catches me running around the station again."
"Don't worry, I know how to take care of him," Jadzia replied with a wink and took off back to her quarters.
Julian accessed the controls to his quarters to open the door and as he entered, he stopped dead in his tracks. There in their living room, sitting in his favorite chair, was the man he was so desperately trying to get to see.
Garak smiled tenderly as he watched two pairs of hazel eyes grow huge as they registered the situation. The tailor rose and opened his arms in welcome to the two males who made up his world.
"Jayta, Jayta, Jayta, Jayta!!!!" Rochosh cried out over and over without taking a breath as he flung himself into his fathers waiting arms.
Julian went to him as well and without a word spoken captured the tailor's warm, gray lips, literally stealing the breath from the tailor as he hugged him fiercely.
"I take that to mean you're happy to see me?" the tailor asked with smiling eyes when his mouth was finally his again.
"Yes, I'm glad to see you, but Elim, why didn't you tell me you were getting released early? No wonder everyone was trying to get me to come home," Julian lightly scolded.
"I wanted it to be a surprise," Garak replied and returned the kisses he was receiving from his little boy.
"Well, you certainly achieved that! You even had the captain in on it!" Julian chided, smiling as he remembered being 'ordered' home by his commanding officer.
Garak said nothing, but just gave his spouse that famous mysterious smile of his.
"Rochosh miss Jayta!" the boy piped in, squeezing his older fathers neck tightly.
"Jayta's missed you too, son." Garak hugged him hard enough to get an 'umph' out of his little boy.
They all moved to sit on the sofa, Rochosh planted firmly on his Jayta's lap, snuggling against the broad chest.
"You never did explain how you managed to get released so early. I wasn't expecting you home for at least another day," Julian told him.
"Well, seeing as how I had no plans on leaving the station, Odo decided it would be safe to dismiss standard protocal on this matter. Any other paperwork I might need to sign, he will bring to me," Garak replied. He settled his arm around Julian's shoulders and pulled him in close.
"I'm not complaining, but I was going to have a special dinner and a party of sorts for you," Julian replied, with a touch of disappointment in his voice. "I wanted to do something special for you."
Garak leaned in close to his ear. "Jahkim, you know I don't need special plans to welcome me home, just having you and Rochosh in my arms again is all I need." He placed a kiss on Julian's temple and hugged him.
"Jayta," Rochosh interrupted.
"Yes, Rochosh?" Garak answered.
"Rochosh did good. Took care of Daddy while gone," the boy said in a serious voice.
Garak stroked his soft ebony hair. "I'm very proud of you, son. What did you do to take care of Daddy?"
Rochosh sat back and thought for a moment. "Told Daddy bedtime story. Brought him Kukie too," the little boy answered. "Ask Yanna and Grandpa to help," he added. A small frown formed on the boy's mouth.
"What's wrong, Rochosh?" the tailor asked.
"No like Jayta gone. Daddy cry a lot," the boy replied.
Julian shifted uncomfortably on the sofa, not looking at his spouse. The movements didn't go unnoticed by the tailor.
"Jayta didn't like being gone either. It made Jayta very sad too," Garak replied, pulling Julian even closer.
"Baby make Daddy sick a lot too," the boy replied, reaching over to pat his daddy's stomach.
"No more so than normal," Julian interjected assuringly.
"Did you have help making Daddy feel better?" Garak asked.
The boy nodded his dark head up and down. "Uncle Ben, Auntie Jadzia, Yanna, Grandpa, and Uncle Miles." The little boy looked from his daddy to his Jayta again. "Uncle Miles made Daddy stop crying when he rubbed Daddy's body."
"Rochosh!!" Julian cried out and then looked at his spouse. "Miles gave me a foot rub after I told him about the baby," Julian quickly explained, looking first from the innocent look on his little boy's face to that of an amused expression on his husband's.
Garak tisked at him. "My dearest Jahkim, I may have been gone for a while, but I thought you had better taste than that!"
Julian punched him in the arm and Garak let out a hearty laugh.
"Rochosh, why don't you go play before you get Daddy in trouble," Julian told his son, though his tone wasn't serious.
Garak tightened his hold on both males in his arms. "I don't think so, I'm just beginning to like this discussion."
"Daddy already been in trouble," Rochosh piped up.
"What do you mean son?" Garak asked.
"Daddy bad, Uncle Ben send him home," the boy replied.
Julian smiled, "That was just so Jayta could surprise Daddy."
"Know what Jayta?"
"Tell me, son," Garak replied.
"Rochosh help bring Jayta home," the boy replied.
Garak looked curiously from his son to Julian who was nodding.
"That's right, Rochosh recognized a picture of Myral when he saw it. He's the one that placed her in the Infirmary with my scalpel the day before the murder," the doctor replied.
Garak squeezed his boy tightly again as he looked at him in frank admiration. "I always suspected you were blessed with your Daddy's intelligence," he replied with fondness. How was he ever blessed with such a precious gift?
"Or perhaps it was his Jayta's skills of observation," Julian reminded him, lacing his fingers through Garak's
"Rochosh did good?" the little boy asked earnestly.
"Rochosh did very good," Garak replied and kissed the boy's forehead. "Rochosh was wonderful."
Rochosh gave him a wide grin. "Rochosh glad, tried hard." With that the boy scooted until he was able to climb off of his Jayta's lap and ran into his bedroom only to return minutes later with his big book of Earthborn fairy tales.
Climbing up on Garak's lap, he thrust the book at his Jayta. "Jayta read to Rochosh," the boy demanded.
"Rochosh, it isn't your bedtime yet," Julian replied.
"Rochosh know, miss Jayta reading. Read now?" he asked his older father.
"Of course, my boy. Jayta's missed reading to you too," Garak answered as Rochosh snuggled in on his fathers lap as Garak began reading a story of seven little men who rescued a princess and how she falls in love with a handsome prince. As he read the story, Elim glanced over at Julian who was listening as well with his eyes shut and vaguely wondered if that prince might not have been happier with a handsome knight instead.
When the story was finished, Rochosh reached up and kissed Garak on the cheek. "Thank you Jayta. Good story."
"You're more than welcome," Garak replied with a tender smile, ruffling the boy's hair.
"Jayta come play?" the boy asked.
"Maybe a little later, all right? Jayta wants to spend some time with Daddy too," he replied.
"'Kay," the boy replied and hugged both his fathers before getting down and going off to his room to play alone.
After the couple was alone, Garak turned to his younger husband.
"Julian, how is the baby doing? And be honest," the tailor asked, not that he expected anything less from him.
Julian turned a bit more in Garak's arms in order to face him better. "Well, I've not had anymore bouts with the hypotension lately and I've been going to see Doctor Slovik every week for a check up and everything looks good. The morning sickness has also gotten much better," Julian was happy to report.
"Well I'm certainly pleased to hear that," Garak replied, but then his smile faded slightly. "I only wish I could have been here for you during the times you needed me."
Julian stroked the back of Garak's hand with his fingertips. "It wasn't your fault, it was something out of your control," he reminded the Cardassian.
"Yes, but it still doesn't change the fact that I should have been here to help support you when you needed me," the tailor replied.
Julian cuddled up closer to his older spouse. "Well, the important thing is that you're here now and Myral's been dealt with." Then with a smile reappearing on his face he said, "I still feel like celebrating that fact too."
"What did you have in mind?" Garak asked, his hand running the length of Julian's back as he spoke.
"What do you think about going out for dinner?" Julian suggested. "After all, I'm sure it would be a nice change of pace from what Odo's had you eating."
Garak let out a laugh. "True, the penal institution's version of what they consider cuisine did leave a lot to be desired." He then took a long look at his spouse. Julian's eyes looked tired and his legs look as though they were swollen. "Are you sure you feel up to it though?"
"Of course I do," Julian assured him. "My husband's back home and I want to celebrate. Did you have any place in particular in mind?"
"We haven't been to the Vulcan restaurant in quite awhile," Garak replied.
Julian let out an audible moan as his hand went to his stomach.
"I take it you're not interested in that establishment?" Garak asked.
"It's not that, you know I like Vulcan food, that's the problem in fact. They installed a new all you can eat buffet since you were gone," Julian replied.
Garak looked at his younger spouse with confusion. "Then I fail to see the problem, Love, it seems it would be the perfect place to make sure you eat your fill."
"Look at me, Elim," Julian replied waving his hands over his prominent stomach. "One meal like that and I'd be bursting at the seams. . .I'm already nearly there as it is. These bloody uniforms were simply not designed with pregnant men in mind!"
Julian did in fact seem to have his uniform stretched to capacity. The material looked dangerously taut over his body. "A gross oversight on their part no doubt, but Jahkim, surely they must make a larger size that you could wear?" Garak questioned him.
"Captain Sisko's been trying to requisition a larger one for me, but so far he's had no luck at all," Julian grumbled.
"I thought as much," Garak replied with his eyes twinkling as he stood and took Julian's hand in his. "That is why I took it upon myself to take care of that matter."
"What are you talking about Elim?" Julian questioned even as he was being helped to stand.
"Come with me and you'll see," Garak replied as he led Julian into their bedroom.
Once in there, Garak pressed the control pad to open their closet where he revealed at least a half a dozen brand new outfits of various colors and materials.
Julian's eyes widened in surprise. "Are these for me?" he asked, reaching out a hand to touch the nearest article of clothing.
Garak pulled one of the outfits out, a beautifully crafted burgundy colored tunic with gold striping, holding it up to his spouse and smiling with satisfaction. "Yes, Jahkim, these are all for you. I made them while being held. It helped kept me busy."
Julian took the tunic and matching pants and held them to him and looked down. "Elim, these are splendid, thank you so much." Julian leaned over to kiss Garak's lips. "I can't wait to get into something that actually fits comfortably."
The tailor looked on pleased that his gesture was appreciated by his younger spouse. "Does that mean you'll be able to go to the Vulcan restaurant with me now?"
"Of course, I'll need some time to get Rochosh ready and then change myself, but then we can go," Julian replied, laying the new tunic in his hands down on the bed and starting to turn to leave.
"Why don't I get Rochosh ready instead, so you can take a few minutes for yourself," the tailor offered.
"Well, I would like to shower," Julian said slowly. The younger man couldn't help it as he wrapped his arms around the Cardassian's broad neck he leaned in for a lingering exploratory kiss.
"I am so glad you're glad you're back," Julian whispered after he broke the kiss.
"Not nearly as glad as I am to be back," Garak replied quietly, his arms tightening in a hug before releasing his mate.
The dinner at the Vulcan restaurant was enjoyable and relaxing. The atmosphere was quiet and subdued and the food was the best Garak had enjoyed in quite a while, but what he enjoyed most was being able to share it with his family. He had never doubted the efforts Julian went to secure his freedom, but he couldn't discount the secret fear he'd had that he might not have ever been able to enjoy precious moments like these with his family again. Garak quickly shrugged off the train of thought as he felt Julian's eyes on him. He was determined to make this an enjoyable evening for the doctor and his son, as they both deserved it.
As the night grew late, Garak and Julian both got Rochosh ready for bed, giving him his bath and tucking him in with his favorite teddy. Julian listened as Garak sang to their son, singing a favorite lullaby that his mother had sung to him when he was growing up. After they were certain Rochosh was asleep, each father placed a kiss to the sleeping child's brow, and both men stole out of the room to their own bedroom.
They both undressed and climbed into bed. Julian tuned on his side to pull Garak into his arms as the tailor's arms slid around him lightly as well. Garak looked into the deep brown eyes of his younger mate and began thinking once again about the last two months they spent apart.
He could still recall all of the times Julian came to talk with him where the younger man looked like he was ready to drop at his feet from pure exhaustion. Even though Julian never openly admitted to being emotionally worn out, Garak could see it in the dark circles under his eyes, the manner in which he carried himself, and other telltale signs that would only be apparent to a spouse's scrutiny. It only lent credence to what everyone had told him about Julian not taking proper care of himself because of the worry and stress the tailor had put him through. 'It's not fair that he had to endure so much because of me, and to think he took it all on without one complaint.' He had always known his mate was much stronger than Julian gave himself credit for being and this just went on to prove the fact. 'Well, my love, I'm going to do my best to make up for the time I was absent from you. I'm going to make sure you take care of yourself from now on,' Garak silently pledged, 'and I promise you that I'm not going to do anything more than might jeopardize your health or our daughter's either.'
Julian then began kissing the tailor's lips, pressing his tongue insistently into the warmth inside Elim's mouth. 'Gul Julian, I want to touch you so much, but what if I become overly zealous?' Garak wondered as Julian captured his tongue and began sucking on it while his hands traveled over Garak's chest. 'I can't do this. . .I won't do anything more to risk the baby's health," he told himself determinedly. Julian's warm body pressed even closer to him while his hands explored Garak's body. Garak could feel the beginnings of desire stirring in response in his own body. His hands reacted involuntarily as they came up and started to caress the smooth golden skin of Julian's body. 'Jahkim, why do you have to make this so hard for me! I want nothing more than to turn you over and take you right now, to show you how much I've missed you. . .to make up for each and every night we were away from each other, but that's what I'm worried about as well. Our baby. . ." his thoughts trailed off as he managed to capture Julian's hands with his own. With all the will that could only be fortified from years of being part of the Order, Garak placed the wandering hands to Julian's sides and broke free from the alluring lips.
"Elim?" Julian questioned, confusion showing in his eyes.
Garak brushed back a few stray strands of hair off the doctor's forehead. "Jahkim, you've had such a long day. I don't want to keep you from your rest," he offered in way of an explanation.
"But. . ." Julian started to protest.
Garak tenderly shushed him and turned him around to pull him tightly against his chest and kissed the younger man's slender neck and ran his hand soothingly down the soft tempting body.
Julian was still confused. Had he been mistaken? He could have sworn that he felt his husband responding to his kisses and touches. Hadn't he? The thickened member pressed against his backside seemed to indicate that Garak had started to become aroused so why did he stop? 'Well, I wasn't the only one that's had a long day," Julian reminded himself. 'He's been through a lot himself.' Thinking about how Garak must have been feeling while incarcerated and feeling helpless to do anything about it, made Julian start feeling guilty. 'I'm just being selfish,' he admonished himself. 'Of course he doesn't want to make love so soon after being released. Give him some time to get settled in at home again,' Julian told himself and turned again so that he was facing Garak. Giving him another tender kiss, Julian nuzzled against the broad chest, hugged him close and shut his eyes. Garak let out a sigh of relief, not knowing if he would have been able to resist had the doctor been more insistent. As his hands stroked the younger man's smooth back, Garak shut his eyes and fell into the deepest and most peaceful sleep he'd had in months.
Two days later, Julian and Miles O'Brien met for their weekly game of darts. Quarks was quiet and the chief had already had several rounds of ale before Julian arrived. The Irishman was in a jovial mood and hugged his young friend as Julian sat down at the table. Miles laughed softly as he released Julian.
"What's so funny?" Julian asked suspiciously.
Gently slapping the doctor's shoulders, O'Brien responded, "It's just that you certainly can't deny the fact that you're pregnant now. I mean look at you, you've got quite a belly."
Julian glanced down at his stomach. Miles was absolutely right, his stomach had indeed expanded, befitting his pregnant condition. Julian frowned slightly as he ran his hands over the bulging abdomen. While he unconditionally loved the fact that he was carrying his and Elim's baby, he had to admit that he wasn't prepared for all the changes his body had gone through. His stomach was much bigger than he had expected, it even seemed bigger than Elim's had been, and the young man was having more and more difficulty doing the simple things. He struggled to sit and stand, while putting on socks and shoes was a chore he now hated.
"Julian, are you listening?" The sound of the chief's voice brought Julian out of his musings.
"What? Oh, I'm sorry, Chief. What were you saying?" he responded.
"I asked if you were up to a game or if you just wanted to rest your feet for a while?" O'Brien was already waving over the waiter for another drink.
Julian considered his options. His mind wasn't really on a game of darts. He couldn't stop thinking about what was happening, or rather not happening, at home since Elim's return. He looked over at his smiling friend. 'Maybe Miles could help,' he thought hopefully.
"If you don't mind, Miles, I would really rather just sit here and talk for a while," Julian suggested.
"Fine by me," the older man answered. "Besides, I've had so many drinks, I probably couldn't hit the broadside of a barn." He took a swallow of his freshly arrived drink.
Julian declined a drink and sat watching the Irishman. "Miles?" he questioned hesitantly. "Uh, Miles, could I ask a personal question?"
Setting his glass down on the table, O'Brien answered slowly. "Well, Julian, that all depends, just how personal is this question?"
"Miles. . .Um," Julian began to stammer.
O'Brien leaned forward, closer to his friend and placed a hand on the doctor's arm. "Out with it, Julian. What do you want to know?"
"Miles, when Keiko was pregnant. . .with Molly, did you and she. . .well, did the two of you. . .have any problems?" Julian finally finished, but kept his head lowered, unable to meet the engineer's face.
"What kind of 'problems' are yer talking about?" the Irishman asked, leaning back and fingering the rim of his glass.
"You know. . .did you and she. . .um, did you ever not want to. . .ah," Julian stammered, not knowing quite how to ask his question.
"Just spit it out, Julian," Miles replied, taking another taste of his drink.
"Well, did. . .Keiko being pregnant make her any less. . .attractive to you. . .less. . .desirable?"
The engineer stared dumbfounded at his friend. "What the bloody hell are you talking about? What's gotten into you?"
Julian sighed inwardly and flinched at the other man's outburst. "I-I-I just have to know, Miles. Please, try to understand." Julian lowered his voice as he continued. "Did you. . .did you and Keiko. . .still make love?"
"Julian, what's this all about?" the chief persisted.
Once again, Julian hung his head. "It's just that. . .well, ever since Elim came home. . .well, we haven't. . ." his voice became softer as his eyes beseeched O'Brien's understanding.
"Haven't what?" O'Brien asked seriously, but with smiling eyes. He tried to hold in the bubbling laughter as he realized what Julian was talking about.
Exasperated, Julian sighed loudly. "You know," he replied quickly. Looking up at the chief's face, Julian noticed the uplifted corner's of the Irishman's mouth. "Chief, I'm serious!" Julian moaned.
Chuckling, O'Brien continued with his teasing torture of his still naive friend. "Well, Julian, you can hardly blame the man. I mean, well, look at you." He indicated the doctor's stomach with a nod of his head. "When he was locked up, you were still somewhat lean and trim, and now. . .well. . ." He left the thought unfinished as he drained his glass.
The doctor's head dropped once again as he rubbed his stomach. "You're right, Miles. It's all my fault."
Despite the amount of liquor consumed, O'Brien sobered quickly as he grasped the serious tone in Julian's voice. "Julian, I'm just playing with you. I'm only joking, really," he hastened to reassure the defeated younger man. Miles leaned forward and took hold of Julian's arm, then lifted the doctor's chin to make the younger man look him in the eyes.
Julian's eyes glistened with unshed tears. "No, no, you're right, Miles. I've ruined everything. . .again. I have to find a way to keep from losing him."
O'Brien regretted his teasing, and wondered what to do next. "Julian, didn't you hear what I just said. I was joking, teasing you, there's nothing wrong with you or Garak."
Julian struggled to his feet. "This isn't a joke, Miles. If you won't help me, then I'll just have to find someone who will. Goodnight." He made his way slowly out the door and headed towards the habitat-ring.
O'Brien sat in shock, surely Julian was just getting even with him. The younger man couldn't really have taken his teasing seriously. Convincing himself that Julian was all right, Miles waved goodbye to Quark and headed towards his own quarters.